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Monday, 6 December 2010

Newcastle University Students Protest

My letter below was posted on the Newcastle University Occupation blog:

I was due to teach in the Fine Arts Lecture Theatre tomorrow, but the venue has been changed due to student protests - my response? BRAVO to you for your COLLECTIVE convictions and your determination to stand up (and sit-in) for a cause that transcends political parties, generations and social class! The planned cuts will deliver a savage blow and will without question lead to a diminution of educational standards and opportunities across all communities in this country.

I took English university degrees throughout the 1980s - under Thatcher, when cuts and closures were also ravaging working-class communities. And yet, throughout, I received free education (no tuition fees!) and a maintenance grant that I did not have to pay back! My generation benefitted greatly from the principle of free education.

Your generation not only has been forced to pay, but are now facing paying fees that outstrip all universities in the world. This is indefensible, particularly when the Liberal Democrats were voted into parliament on the back of a solemn promise NOT to increase university fees. 

Many are behind you. And rightly so. You are fighting for a cause that is just and critically important for all our futures -- but yours especially.

Alan Firth
Senior Lecturer
School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences
Newcastle University

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